True Educator of Korean Arts
Wang Gi-cheol (Korean Traditional Music, ’85)
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Always dreaming of becoming the best pansori performer, Wang has always pictured himself being on the stage, under bright spotlights highlighting his every movement ever since he was a student. Although he now performs on the stage, Wang dreams of something different. “We not only try to raise the students as artists, but as a person with righteous manners before being glamorous artists,” said Wang.
From student to being a teacher
Wang was the first student in Hanyang University (HYU) to have majored in Korean traditional song, pansori. Since it was the first year that HYU started the curriculum for Korean traditional music majors, there was much chaos. Wang recalls, “There was no pansori performer who could teach me in my freshman year. The curriculum just wasn’t ready at the time. Still, we did have some great professors from my second year.” Since Wang’s family was not affluent at the time, he could have stopped his career from his second year. “My teacher, Park Gui-hee took me to the Korean Culture and Arts Foundation and asked the dean for a scholarship herself,” commented Wang.
As Park was the mentor for Wang and a former founder of the National Middle & High School of Traditional Korean Arts, Wang was able to work as a part time teacher during his fourth year at HYU. “I didn’t have many classes to take in my last year at school and I had to do something to earn money,” added Wang. Right after his graduation from HYU, Wang was offered to teach at the School of Traditional Korean Arts as a proper teacher since he completed a course in teaching. “I couldn’t let her down. After all the things she had done for me,” commented Wang. Although he wanted to enter The National Changguk Company of Korea and perform as a pansori performer, the dream had to wait for a while.
From performer to being a principal
After 13 years of teaching at the National Middle & High School of Traditional Korean Arts, Wang finally got the chance to enter the National Changguk Company of Korea in 1999. “I always had that craving for performance inside me. Even when I was the teacher at the school, I would take my students to see the performances or go to watch it on my own,” chuckled Wang. Due to his talents, Wang has starred in diverse traditional Korean operas as the main actor and produced a lot of his own as well. After 15 years of performances, Wang returned to the school to as a principal.
“I think I took my tests to prove that I was worthy of becoming the principal of this school. That is why I am so proud to be here,” commented Wang. Although he could have asked for better treatment of being a professor or to not agree to take the tests for becoming the principal, Wang accepted the terms suggested from the school to be proud of himself. Moreover, it was the school that Wang had spent his early career which made it more emotionally attaching for him. “I felt the necessity to return to this school to lead my students into the world of Korean arts. I would love to be the role model for them,” added Wang. “Since I have diverse experiences from the past to the present, I wish to be the type of principal that students can always lean on.”
Kim Seung Jun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Choi Minju
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